The case against a suspect prosecutors charged for a fatal stabbing outside a Newhall liquor store was dropped after a witness failed to appear, according to a spokeswoman for the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office.
Homicide Bureau detectives filed a case with the DA’s Office on March 14, three days after Eduardo Rosario Becerril was stabbed to death in front of Dooly’s Liquor in Newhall.
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies arrested Steven Castro, a Canyon Country mechanic, on suspicion of murder at 6:20 a.m. March 12, less than 24 hours after the altercation at the 22500 block of 14th Street.
While homicide detectives said a murder case was presented to prosecutors, Castro ultimately was charged March 14 with violating Section 245 (a)(1) of the California Penal Code, assault with a deadly weapon, not a firearm.
Castro was released on $30,000 bail three days after his arrest, according to Sheriff’s Department custody records available online.
Castro’s case then went through more than a dozen continuances last year, from April to October, when ultimately a motion to dismiss the case was granted by Judge Pamela Usher in Department G of San Fernando Superior Court, citing Section 1382 of the Penal Code, which guarantees a defendant the right to a speedy trial.
“The case was dismissed because the prosecution was unable to proceed due to a witness not appearing,” according to an email Tuesday from Venusse Dunn, spokeswoman for the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office, “and in reviewing the evidence it was determined that the case/charge could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Despite the area around the crime being part of several investigations into recent reports of gang-related violence during the same time span, local officials did not share any suspicion the suspect or the victim in the case are linked to organized criminal activity or the ongoing turf war between two local gangs.
Homicide detectives declined to discuss the case or what happened, other than to say it’s still part of an active investigation.
Deputy District Attorney Stephen Rivera, who was assigned to the case, according to the DA’s Office, was not immediately available for comment Wednesday.
A Gofundme created by the victim’s family raised more than $6,400 as of Wednesday.
“Eduardo was a kind and gentle person who was such a light in everyone’s lives. He brought so much joy, laughter and kindness everywhere he went,” according to a post attributed to Natalie Rosario, Becerril’s brother-in-law. “He touched the lives of everyone he encountered with his selfless and compassionate nature.”
Anyone with information about this incident can contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. If you prefer to provide information anonymously, call “Crime Stoppers” by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477) or download the “P3 Tips” Mobile APP on Google play or the Apple App Store or by using the website lacrimestoppers.org.